Carrie Lam

Efforts are being made to bridge Hong Kong’s political divide

A change in the city’s leadership has opened the door for reconciliation between the pan-democrats and the pro-Beijing lawmakers. More cordial working relations will hopefully pave the way for better governance

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 20 May, 2017, 3:09am
UPDATED : Saturday, 20 May, 2017, 3:09am

Compromise is perhaps the hardest word for politicians the world over, even more so for those in a system like Hong Kong’s. So entrenched is the antagonism between Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and the pan-democrats that there is still no way out when the former is about to step down. Thankfully, a change in the city’s leadership has opened the door for reconciliation. All stakeholders, including incoming leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and the rival political camps, must do their best to try to bridge the divide.

It appears that good efforts are being made. In an ice-breaking move early this month, the pan-democrats and the pro-Beijing lawmakers met over lunch to explore possible cooperation. Although the get-together did not yield any concrete results, it is nonetheless a welcome move.

Dongjiang visit a sign that Beijing and pan-democrats can talk

Goodwill gestures have also been made by Carrie Lam and the pan-democrats. Speaking after their first meeting, the seven-member Professional Guild said it would give Lam the benefit of the doubt, as opposed to its previous position of having “no basis of mutual trust” with her.

It is understood that Lam is to appoint Law Chi-kwong, a former Democratic Party legislator, into her team. She dropped the hint during a meeting with the Democratic Party, when she asked whether party members needed to quit to take up a government appointment. Law’s appointment may not necessarily make the Democrats a government ally. But when talents of different political backgrounds can serve in the administration, it creates an inclusive atmosphere. It would be good if Beijing let more pan-democrats play a more active role in governance in future.

That said, it would be wrong to expect full harmony ahead. Experience shows that the appointments of moderate pan-democrats, such as transport and housing minister Anthony Cheung Bing-leung and environment undersecretary Christine Loh Kung-wai, did little to improve executive-legislative relations.

Hong Kong chief executive-elect Carrie Lam struggles to find new talent to join her cabinet

It would take more than a few get-togethers and individual appointments to normalise political ties. Adding to the challenge is the delicate relationship between the moderate pan-democrats and their more radical allies. Comprising some activists-turned-legislators, the faction is being marginalised, which has in turn prompted them to become more confrontational.

The legislature will go into recess shortly after Lam is sworn in on July 1. The real test for her administration may therefore begin in October when she delivers her maiden policy speech. At stake is effective governance. The public looks forward to more cordial working relations between the two branches, which hopefully, paves the way for better cooperation and governance.